1825 · New Orleans
[bound with] [Livingston, Edward:] DEFINITIONS OF ALL THE TECHNICAL WORDS USED IN THE SYSTEM OF PENAL LAW PREPARED FOR THE STATE OF LOUISIANA. [New Orleans: Benjamin Levy. 1826]. 27, [1 blank] pp. Bound together in contemporary marbled boards [rubbed], rebacked in calf with title stamped in gilt on morocco spine label. Inner hinges reinforced. Each title with scattered light foxing, Very Good, with the signature on title page of Genl. R.L. Schieffelin; and the clipped signature, "Edw. Livingsto-". General Richard Lawrence Schieffelin [1801-1889], a graduate of Columbia University, was a wealthy Manhattan attorney specializing in chancery and real estate law, and a Brigadier General in command of several regiments of the New York State Infantry.
Livingston, a disciple of Bentham, presents the philosophical underpinnings of his penal system. "No single writer, except Jeremy Bentham, has written so much upon Codification, or as learnedly, as Livingston. His Codes are much admired for their philosophy, apparent practicability, and the characteristic wisdom of their provisions, which place their author among the best writers upon legislation...His writings deserve the attention of legislators, and will remain a lasting monument of his industry, wisdom, and learning" [Marvin 471]. Sir Henry Maine called him "the first legal genius of modern times" [DAB]. A leader of the Codification movement, Livingston thus favored laws made democratically by legislatures rather than by Judges exercising common-law prerogatives. Opposing conceptions of the law as an arcane discipline, fit only for experts, he insisted that laws be written clearly and in plain language, so that citizens may understand them in order to guide their own behavior and to hold judges accountable for their actions.
The 'Definitions' has "No imprint. Attributed to Benjamin Levy & Co., Printers, because this firm printed other portions of Livingston's codes and because typography and format are consistent with Levy's other work" [Jumonville].
A contemporary owner of this book explains on the rear free endpaper Livingston's contributions to the law: Louisiana "observed a set of civil rules strangely compounded of English case-law, French code law, and Spanish usages. The consolidation of this mass of incongruous jurisprudence was determined upon, and after more than one unsuccessful experiment, it was confided to THE FIRST LEGAL GENIUS OF MODERN TIMES- MR. LIVINGSTON." [capital letters substituted for original underlining].
FIRST EDITION. Jumonville 453, 486. Cohen 10332, 10346. (Inventory #: 31599)